Yankees’ Gerrit Cole reaches impressive personal milestone: ‘He’s an absolute bulldog’

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole
USA Today

The New York Yankees could only score one run yesterday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Fortunately, that’s all they needed to win, in large part because the man on the mound was just unhittable, as he has been all season. Gerrit Cole pitched eight shutout innings and struck out 12 foes in an unbelievable, yet extremely common for him, performance.

“He’s an ace,” Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said of Cole to MLB.com. “He is an absolute bulldog. I think he lives for pitching when it’s tough and in the biggest of games. In a 1-0 game, we needed all of it. Even though he breezed through some of those innings and made them look pretty easy, there was a ton on the line with every pitch.”

The streaking Yankees have left behind the memories of their slow start, and are now a single game behind the Boston Red Sox for the AL East lead. The Bombers have taken 11 out of their last 14 games.

The Yankees’ pitcher is breaking records

During the third inning, Cole struck out Brett Phillips to nail down his 1,500th career punchout, a number that is easy to read but definitely not easy to reach.

The Yankees’ right-hander is now the fourth fastest to achieve the milestone, doing it in 1,315 1/3 innings according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Cole was definitely happy after his performance.

“I certainly enjoy playing in meaningful games,” he said. “There was a lot going on today, and it was a bit challenging to get focused for the game, but once you’re there, it was business as usual. I try to keep that mindset all the time; it’s helpful when there’s a little bit more on the line.”

When everybody thought Cole was finished, he struck out the side in the eighth inning, hurling a 99 mph fastball to Phillips to end his night. It was simply magnificent.

“He looked pretty dialed in the entire night, but if he needs to find an extra gear to get even better, he’s capable and equipped to do that,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.